This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


(photo by Nick Pierce)

Sara Juli explores marriage in personal, funny ways in latest one-woman show (photo by Nick Pierce)

Dixon Place
161A Chrystie St. between Rivington and Delancey Sts.
February 21-22, 27-28, $19-$23, 7:00

“The funny thing about marriage over time is I was very focused on locking it in, and now I just feel locked in,” Sara Juli says in her one-woman show Burnt-Out Wife, which makes its New York premiere February 21-22 and 27-28 at Dixon Place in conjunction with the American Dance Festival. The comedic dance-theater work takes place in a peppy pink bathroom designed by Pamela Moulton, with Juli wearing a range of household costumes (or not much of anything) created by Carol Farrell as she sings, dances, and riffs on relationships while sharing intimate moments and eliciting audience participation. Juli, a Skidmore graduate with degrees in dance and anthropology whose previous shows include The Money Conversation and Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis, lived in New York for fifteen years before moving in 2014 with her husband and two children to Maine, where she produces the contemporary dance series Maine Moves and runs the fundraising consulting practice Surala Consulting, among other artistic ventures. In preparing for Burnt-Out Wife, Juli and her husband went to marriage counseling, covering as many bases as possible as she explores commitment in deeply personal yet funny ways from a distinctly feminist perspective. The seventy-minute presentation, which involves cake, an original song, and plungers, features dramaturgy by Michelle Mola, sound by Ryan MacDonald, and lighting by David Ferri; tickets are $19 in advance and $23 at the door.


(photo by Anne Van Aerschot)

The North American premiere of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas’ Mitten Wir Im Leben Sind/Bach6Cellosuiten takes place at the Skirball Center this week (photo by Anne Van Aerschot)

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 La Guardia Pl.
February 13-15, $50-$60, 7:30

If you haven’t seen Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas perform in New York City, you haven’t been paying attention. She and her company have presented A Love Supreme at New York Live Arts in 2017, Six Brandenburg Concertos at Park Avenue Armory in 2018, and Transfigured Night at Baryshnikov Arts Center in 2019. This week de Keersmaeker and Rosas are performing the North America premiere of Mitten Wir Im Leben Sind / Bach6Cellosuiten (In the Midst of Life / Bach’s Cello Suites) at NYU’s Skirball Center, a series of solos accompanied by master French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, who plays a 1696 cello by Gioffredo Cappa, with de Keersmaeker joining each dancer for a duet.

The two-hour piece, which debuted at the 2017 Ruhrtriennale in Germany in 2017, consists of six Bach sections written between 1717 and 1723 (BWV 1007-1012) — the allemande, courante, sarabande, two minuets, and gigue — created with and danced by Boštjan Antončič, Marie Goudot, Julien Monty, Michaël Pomero, and De Keersmaeker. The stark staging, in which the dancers move across a black space around a seated Queyras, with swirling white chalk marks and green and red tape placed on the light-colored floor, features costumes by An D’Huys, sound by Alban Moraud, and lighting by Luc Schaltin. The title comes from Martin Luther’s version of the Latin antiphon “Media vita in morte sumus”; the Lutheran hymn reads, in part: “In the midst of life / We are in death / Who shall help us in the strife / Lest the Foe confound us? / Thou only, Lord, Thou only!” In addition, Bach wrote a freestanding chorale (BWV 383) based on Luther’s three-stanza liturgy; de Keersmaeker has also discussed how she saw the Luther quote on the tombstone of legendary choreographer Pina Bausch. The February 14 show will be followed by a talk with de Keersmaeker and Queyras, moderated by Center for Ballet and the Arts founder and director Jennifer Homans.


Women in Motion

Women in Motion presents a trio of commissioned projects from female choreographers

The Theater at Gibney
280 Broadway
January 30 - February 1, $15-$20, 8:00

Women in Motion and the Bang Group will present their latest Pop Performance this week at Gibney, consisting of specially commissioned works by female or female-identifying choreographers. Founded in 2000, WIM “offers female artists the opportunity to show work-in-progress in a supportive, intimate setting, intended to create a dialogue between artists and audiences.” The Centaur Show, by the duo asubtout (Katy Pyle and Eleanor Hullihan), is described as a “nouveau New Age fantasy death metal poperetta.” Pyle and Hullihan return to their 2007 original to explore how the world has changed in the last thirteen years. Rebecca Stenn’s The Oak and the Willow is like a painting come to life onstage, a duet danced by Stenn and Quinn Dixon, with live music by Jay Weissman on electric bass. And Same as Sister’s Kallax features a Sámi protagonist at IKEA, with Kristina Hay, Leigh Atwell, Hilary Brown-Istrefi, Briana Brown-Tipley, and Jamie Robinson in a work that examines celebrity and consumer culture. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.


year of the rat

Multiple venues
January 25 - February 20

Gōng xǐ fā cái! New York City is ready to celebrate the Year of the Rat with special events all over town. People born in the Year of the Rat, the first zodiac sign, are clever and resourceful and have the potential to be wealthy and prosperous. Below are some of the highlights happening here in the five boroughs during the next several weeks of Chinese New Year.

Saturday, January 25
New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Grand Street at Chrystie St., free, 11:00 am – 3:30 pm

Lunar New Year Celebration, with family-friendly arts and crafts, mask-making workshop, lantern making, zodiac animal origami, compost activities, face painting ($5), winter tree tour, plant sale, zodiac-themed storytelling, lion dance performance, and more, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., free, 12 noon - 4:00

Sunday, January 26
Sunday, February 16 & 23

Shadow Theater Workshops: The Art of Chinese New Year, with artists from Chinese Theatre Works, China Institute, 40 Rector St., $20, 2:00 pm

Saturday, February 1
Lunar New Year Family Festival, with “Sounds of the New Year” featuring the pipa and the erhu, “Whirling, Twirling Ribbons” workshop, lion dance performance, food, storytelling, face painting, zodiac arts and crafts, a gallery hunt, more, Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St., $12, 10:00 - 1:00 and 2:00 - 5:00

Lunar New Year Chinese Temple Bazaar, with food, live performances, activities, and more, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., $5, 11:00 & 2:00

Lunar New Year Festival: Year of the Rat, Lunar New Year Parade, Sesame Street Puppeteers Featuring Alan Muraoka, Integrating Identity with Vincent Chong, Festive Feast with Emily Mock, Luminous Lanterns with China Institute, Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony & Bubble Tea Gatherings, Hand-Pulled Noodle Demonstration, Creative Calligraphy with Zhou Bin, Metal Mouse Masterpieces with the Rubin Museum of Art, Hero Rats with Lydia DesRoche, Fierce Dragon Creations, Luminous Lanterns with China Institute, more, Met Fifth Ave., free with museum admission (some events require advance tickets), 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Family Day: Moon over Manhattan, with Bo Law Kung Fu: Lion Dance and Kung Fu demonstration, Rabbit Days and Dumplings, arts & crafts, and more, Asia Society, 725 Park Ave., $5-$12, 1:00 - 5:00

Lunar New Year, with music and dance, martial arts, theater, a lion parade, and more, presented with the New York Chinese Cultural Center, Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey St., free, 2:00 – 3:15

year of the rat 2

Sunday, February 2
Chinese New Year Family Festival, with lion dances, dumpling and paper-lantern workshops, storytelling, a puppet show, live music, more, China Institute, 40 Rector St., general admission free, some programs $20 in advance, 12:00 – 4:00 pm

Wednesday, February 5
Classic Films for the New Year: Eat Drink Man Woman (Ang Lee, 1994), China Institute, 40 Rector St., $5, 6:30 pm

Friday, February 7
Lunar New Year Night Market, with food and drinks, live performances, art and culture, lion dance, vendors, and more, Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St., $99 (includes one-year MoCA membership), 6:00 - 10:00

Saturday, February 8
Super Saturday Lion Dances, throughout Chinatown, free

Sunday, February 9
Twenty-first annual New York City Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, with cultural booths in the park and a parade with floats, antique cars, live performances, and much more from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and other nations, Chinatown, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and Columbus Park, free, 11:00 am - 3:30 pm

Peking Opera in Lunar New Year Presented by Qi Shufang Peking Opera Company, Queens Public Library, 41-17 Main Street, Flushing, free, 2:00

Thursday, February 13 & 20
MOCAKIDS Storytime! New Year’s Traditions, Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St., $5, 4:00


Swan Lake

St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre makes its US debut in February with Swan Lake at BAM (photo by KT)

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
February 15-16, $35-$135, 7:30

Internationally acclaimed Russian prima ballerina Irina Kolesnikova and the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre will make their US debut February 15-16 at BAM with their lush and lavish production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Rejected by the Kirov and the Bolshoi because of her size, Kolesnikova ultimately made a home — and a family — with the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, eventually marrying founder Konstantin Tachkin, with whom she has two children. They’ve come a long way since he called her a “little red lump in a T-shirt” when she auditioned at the age of ten.

Not to be confused with the St Petersburg Festival Ballet or the St Petersburg State Ballet — the name issue is currently in court — the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre has toured with such classics as The Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, but their gem is Swan Lake, with two dozen swans and Kolesnikova as Odette/Odile. At BAM, they will be accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of New York, conducted by Timur Gorkovenko. The Vaganova-trained Kolesnikova also has performed the title role in the company’s Her Name Was Carmen, its unique take on the Georges Bizet ballet based on Prosper Mérimée’s novella, with the setting moved to a refugee site, inspired by her 2016 visit to Balkan camps.


(photo by Maria Baranova)

Faye Driscoll’s Thank You for Coming: Space is making its NYC premiere at Live Artery festival (photo by Maria Baranova)

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
January 8-11, $15-$30
Festival continues through January 15

Faye Driscoll concludes her seven-year “Thank You for Coming” trilogy with Space, a bold and courageous solo work making its New York City debut at New York Live Arts’ Live Artery winter performance festival this week. In March 2014’s Thank You for Coming: Attendance at Danspace, audience members could be as involved as they wanted to be as five dancers merged into one and Driscoll deconstructed and reconstructed the set as well as the relationship between performer and viewer. In November 2016’s Thank You for Coming: Play at BAM, Driscoll channeled passion, rage, intimacy, and an exhilarating frolicsomeness with five dancers and surprise appearances.

Inspired by the death of her mother, Space is about the physical and metaphysical weight we all carry every day as we attempt to shape our lives in a world that is whirling out of our control. The audience enters a blaringly white space on the stage, sitting in two rows of folding chairs; Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin’s set evokes a waiting room between life and rebirth, a kind of bardo.

(photo by Maria Baranova)

Faye Driscoll’s Thank You for Coming: Space concludes seven-year artistic journey between audience and performer (photo by Maria Baranova)

In each corner is a small platform, and various objects lie on the floor or hanging from the rafters, including small, triangular black sandbags, numerous microphones, boots, cinder blocks, and a lemon. Driscoll, a California native based in Brooklyn, enters the room on a warm, unpretentious note, thanking us for taking time out of our busy schedules to get out of bed, put on clothes, and come to the theater to see her. She moves to the center and sends a rusty, soundless bell into motion, circling around us but not quite hitting anyone, then slowing down like a pendulum, as if we are all running out of time. Over the next seventy-five minutes, Driscoll, barefoot, wearing black jeans and a gray T-shirt, records gasps, sighs, and roars into microphones, stomps around in boots connected to speakers, and lifts cinder blocks. She makes specific requests of the audience to perform an array of critical tasks, from raising and lowering objects via a pulley system to holding her hands to maintain her balance; each interaction with animate or inanimate objects results in Driscoll experimenting with new dance movements, merging reality and performance with relentlessly building intensity.

When she throws clumps of clay, it is as if she is demonstrating that we have only so much control over our life and our bodies and might just have to abandon ourselves to chaos. In fact, elements of the piece itself are unpredictable; the night I went, one of the objects got caught in the lighting above, forcing Driscoll (There Is So Much Mad in Me, You’re Me) to improvise, although there is a looseness as well that allowed her to discuss the situation briefly with one of the tech people. (Kudos must go out to sound engineer Zachary Crumrine, sound designer Andrew Gilbert, and text adviser Amanda K. Davidson, who keep us fully immersed and on our toes in the participatory piece.)

Space confronts what is simultaneously the most certain and uncertain of human states, our undoing and our final flourishing,” Driscoll explains in the program, which also notes that the work was in process during the death of her mother. “It is a reckoning with the fact that one being’s transition from the state of the living calls forth a concurrent transition in those not dead.” Space ultimately transforms into a darkly funny meditation on death in a strange monologue by Driscoll, who is dripping wet with sweat. Her performance is fierce and ferocious, intimate and heart-rending; she holds nothing back, leaving the audience exhilarated and uncomfortable, frightful and concerned, yet oddly victorious. By the time it’s over, she has engaged four of our five senses (only Driscoll gets to taste) while referring not only to the end of life but of the show we’ve just experienced, as well as the trilogy itself. But rebirth awaits; the audience gets up and goes on with their lives, and Driscoll will go on with hers, including bringing Space to the Walker Art Center in March and the Wexner Center in April.


(photo by Ryuichiro Suzuki)

Dancer-choreographer Wataru Kitao stars in one-man multimedia show at Japan Society (photo by Ryuichiro Suzuki)

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
January 10-14, $35
Festival continues through January 19

Writer-director Suguru Yamamoto returns to Japan Society after the success of his Hanchu-Yuei collective’s 2017 production of Girl X with The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood, a one-man dance-theater piece featuring dancer-choreographer Wataru Kitao. In the ninety-minute show, which is running January 10-14 as part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, the Tokyo-based Yamamoto explores ideas of anonymity, empathy, and death in an abstract urban environment where young people rely on texting to make connections. Kitao, founder of the dance ensemble Baobab, portrays multiple characters of different ages and genders as he moves across a stage with various props, police caution tape, and a back wall onto which text (in Japanese and English), video, and photographs are projected; meanwhile, the lighting shifts from reds, blues, and greens to grays and blacks.

“This is a dance performance and also a play,” the thirty-two-year-old Yamamoto (I Can’t Die without Being Born, Enjoyable Time) says in an Under the Radar promotional video. “The theme is the indifference of people living in a metropolis.” It might have been written about Yamamoto’s experiences in Tokyo, but it should feel right at home here in Gotham, although Yamamoto, who founded Hanchu-Yuei in 2007 and has cited such influences as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Woody Allen, is a bit worried. “I don’t know how such a performance is going to be received by a New York audience, but I hope it will catalyze something interesting.” The January 10 show will be followed by a meet-the-artists reception, while the January 11 show will be followed by an artist Q&A.